Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maid to Match

Title: Maid to Match
Author: Deeanne Gist
ISBN: 9780764204081

Blurb (from Goodreads):

From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled--by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in the ways of refined society, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid. But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs...and their hearts.

My take:

This is on my list of favorites for the year! Deeanne Gist is always one of my go-to authors for romances that really deliver the goods. This book is no exception.

What made this story unique was the setting. Biltmore is an awe inspiring place even today. Back when Edith Vanderbilt actually lived there it was a miracle. I loved reading about the sound of the electric lights or the innovative heating system ... and all the other things that make Biltmore and the Vanderbilts so unique.

On top of one of the best settings ever, she created some truly powerful characters. Tillie is smart and ambitious. She has a plan for her future and that plan doesn't include falling for the new useful man ... Even if he is too handsome for words, thinks of what she needs before she asks, knows when to be silent and then talks to her like a real person. Nope, her plan includes waiting on rich ladies and being part of their life so she can travel. She'll do whatever they want, whenever they want... but she'll be able to wear fine clothes and go to balls ...

Mack wants freedom, space to roam (he hates city life) and to take care of his family. He's hot-headed and quick with his fists. His sister and younger brothers were sent out to other families and an orphanage and he finds out they're not really getting the care they need. In fact, his sister is being beaten. He needs to fix the situation - and fast. He detests money and those who have a lot of it, but working at Biltmore may be his only way to get his sister out. That's when he meets Tillie ...

This story has plenty to offer. It was so interesting. You not only have a great romance with a wonderful backdrop - but there was also the story of the orphanage and what was going to happen to the children there. The author did a great job of addressing the whole idea what our priorities should be while also showing that not all people who have money are greedy, selfish pigs. lol

This is a funny, warm, genuine, book. I pre-ordered it a long time ago and I can tell this is one I'll be re-reading. The author is also hosting a trip to Biltmore estate. You can find out more about that here: Getaway With Dee

Don't forget that I have the giveaway for A Love of Her Own. It ends midnight on the 27th. :o)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seeds of Summer & Contest

Title: Seeds of Summer
Author: Deborah Vogts
ISBN: 978-0-310-29276-0

Goodreads blurb:

A heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope.
Spanning the Seasons of the Tallgrass, each story in this series reveals the struggle of the people who live there and the dreams they have for the land until they come full-circle in a never-ending cycle, just as man comes full-circle in his understanding of God.

My Take:

I hadn't read the first book in the series yet (Snow Melts in Spring) so I read that one just in case you needed to - you don't. Some of the characters carry over, but you can read this book on it's own. What I was blown away by was how very good she is at making a setting come alive - and writing characters that don't seem two dimensional. It is very hard to believe this is only her second book.

I'm was more than a little picky and sentimental when reading these books too. You see ~ they are written about the area I live in and will soon be moving away from. So I can tell you that she got it right. If you want to know what it's like in this area, just pick up the book and read. She does an excellent job making the countryside come alive for you.

Then there are the people. Sometimes in fiction we meet some cardboard cut-outs. You know the ones I mean ~ they have no real depth, and you can't really relate to them. You can kind of tell where the author was trying to go ... but they didn't quite make it because the characters fell flat. These people are genuine. You can imagine meeting them in the grocery store or at the next family reunion. Maybe they live next door and maybe they are just like you.

These were a great read. I was provided a copy for review and I'm very thankful for that. It didn't influence my review at all. (I bought Snow Melts in Spring myself and also think that is terrific and should be on everyone's TBR list).

Since I'm getting ready to move, I've decided to pass on another blessing to someone else. I have an extra copy of the brand new book A Love of Her Own by Maggie Brandon. Just agree to review it on your blog to pass the word around.

In one comment tell me whether you're a follower, became a follower, if you advertised this contest on your blog, and your email address (with spaces or spell out dot and that sort of thing).

The contest ends the 27th of June. It's a lovely book and I wish you all the best of luck. :o)

My movers will be here the first week of July and I still haven't sold my old house ... so things have been a bit crazy and stressful here. Thanks for being patient with me. I have a few reviews to catch up on and I am sorry for not being very good at keeping up lately. Life has been hectic.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Dad's Bible

Looking for a Father's Day present for your Dad or husband? This might be just the thing. This Bible is full of features that make it very useful.

The Bible is hardcover and has a nice cover design. It's done in the New Century Version which is one of the easier translations to understand. That makes it really good if you want this to be a Bible that can be used not only for the Dad - but for him to use with his children as well. The pages also aren't so thin that that you have trouble turning them.

Then come the features. Like most Bibles, each book comes with a short introduction. Then they have all their special sections. Some are interspersed throughout the Bible (though there is an index in the back so you can find specific ones when/if you need them).

They are:

Walking in Authority ~ This is all about being the family leader & servant God intends. One of the ones I read talked about the monument built to remind the Israelites about what God had done for them and how everyone who saw that was pointed back to what God had done in their lives. Then it asked what people think when they see your house? Do they think of someone who is kind, generous, who loves God - or is it just a house with our name on the mailbox?

Godly Character ~ The one I read talked about the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus and how they were having trouble with their faith.

Passing It On ~ This section is all about advice on dealing with difficult situations with our children. One I read was about responding to people/situations that are overwhelmingly hostile. It related it back to David and Saul and how David trusted God to be his protection.

Dad's in the Bible ~ Profiles of Biblical dads with life lessons.

Building Your Children ~ These were much longer (whole page from what I saw) lesson on seven key areas of focus for building godly character traits in your children.

Insights ~ These were short, inspirational/motivational thoughts you can reflect and then act upon.

In the back of the Bible they also have a question and answer resource. They have pages of common questions children ask with Scripturally-based answers.

They have a section in the back where you can look up what the Bible has to say about peace or joy or grace and that kind of thing. It does not have a concordance though or study notes in the main body of the Bible. Still, I think this is a wonderful resource and I know just who I plan to gift mine to. :o)

I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my review copy. I appreciated it, but did not allow it to influence my review.